Sunday, December 1, 2013

Nigeria Tries To Justify Wednesday’s Planned Sack Of Thousands Of Striking University Teachers

President Goodluck Jonathan today attempted to justify his
government's plan to sack lecturers in 61 universities, citing the
refusal of the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities
(ASUU) to call off the five-month old action even after 42 of its
chapters had opted out.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr.
Doting Okupe, warned in Abuja at a press briefing that if the
lecturers are now sacked, nobody should blame the government or accuse
it of being dictatorial.
"The ASUU leadership refused to accede to the wishes of 42 of its 61
chapters nationwide, who voted in favour of the agreement with the
President and the calling off of the strike; but in a surprise volte
face presented government again with a new set of demands and
considerations outside the terms agreed at the presidential
intervention," Okupe said.
As if the government fears a backlash, he offered this defensive line:
"This is why we make bold to state that there is absolutely nothing
dictatorial, draconian or undemocratic in the order by the Federal
Government for striking lecturers to return to work or face
He argued that in view of the fact that the government had reached
agreement with ASUU to make available N100 billion for the provision
of infrastructure on campuses of 61 universities covered in the needs
assessment of universities, with a further commitment of another N200
billion over the next two years, in addition to N40 billion of the N90
billion Earned Allowances demanded by the lecturers, they were
expected to reconsider their stand.
"This was despite the fact that the ASUU leadership in the meeting
with President Jonathan failed curiously to articulate the basis of
the calculation of the demanded N90 billion earned allowance, which
has been on the table since 2009," he said.
Okupe stressed that the government has shown good faith and
commendable commitment by acceding to most of the demands of ASUU,
calling the attitude of the ASUU leadership "a pre-conceived and
calculated treacherous plot" aimed at undermining the Presidency and
subverting the government of Nigeria.
"This is clearly a hallmark of a leadership that is determined to
employ subterfuge in an attempt to hold government, students and their
parents and other stakeholders to ransom in a reckless and
irresponsible display of insensitivity, lawlessness and absolute lack
of patriotism and even the fear of God," Okupe said. Unfortunately,
all this is perpetuated using unsuspecting but otherwise loyal,
patriotic and responsible members of ASUU whose families are also sad
victims of this reprehensible and callous attitude of their
Saying that the "Transformation Agenda" of President Goodluck Jonathan
was visibly on course and has recorded much progress and outstanding
achievements and indisputable achievements, he warned that "no sector,
no matter how seemingly important, will be allowed to derail our
collective destiny."
Speaking at a caucus meeting of the Bayelsa State Peoples Democratic
Party in Yenagoa at the weekend, President Jonathan described the ASUU
strike as no longer a trade dispute but a rebellion.
The government plans to fire the lecturers on Wednesday.

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